Topic: Society

Bjoernar Haakensmoen
(February 2006)

In what was otherwise a dull and little watched Olympics, the coach of Norway’s cross country team managed to demonstrate what good sportsmanship and ethical conduct are.

In the women’s team sprint cross-country skiing event, Canadian Sara Renner was leading the pack when her left ski pole broke, a crippling handicap. Three other skiers passed her within seconds, and it looked as if her race was all but doomed. Suddenly, Bjoernar Haakensmoen stepped forward and handed Renner a ski pole, larger than Renner’s remaining pole, but useful enough to allow Renner to continue. In fact, it worked so well that her Canadian national team won a silver medalÂ….just edging out Norway.

Haakensmoen didn’t regret his decision to rescue Renner, even though it cost his own team a medal. His lightning-quick reaction was that of a man whose values are deep and instinctive: an athlete was in trouble, he had the means to help, and he did so.

Simple as can be.

“The Olympic spirit is the way we try to follow,” Haakensmoen said. “Without that, we are in big trouble. Every skier, every staff member from Norway follows that.

If you win but don’t help somebody when you should have, what win is that?”

For his selfless act, and also for ease with which he did the right thing without a second thought, Bjoernar Haakensmoen wins the Ethics Gold for these Olympic games.

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